Top 10 Most Controversial Association Football Goalkeepers

Tags: #Soccer ,   #Goalkeeper ,   #Football ,   #FootballPlayer

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2023-05-16 06:00:06

There is an old saying that you can't be a successful goalkeeper without being a bit crazy. Just imagine standing there on the field for 90 minutes, spending most of the time doing nothing. Even your team's fans are thrilled when they don't need to move a muscle during the game. But some of them must have said, "There must be more to life than this," and that's what made them legends. Let us introduce you to the top ten list of equally brilliant and insane goalkeepers!

10.  David James

David James as an outfield player for Manchester City
Known for: Unpredictability
Top teams he played for: Liverpool, Manchester City
International career: England 53 (0)
Top trophies won: FA Cup, Football League Cup
Player info

When your nickname is "Calamity James," you know that what you are doing in front of your goal must be wrong. During his Liverpool days, James was prone to appalling errors, and a lack of concentration. Incredibly, he blamed it all on PlayStation games, claiming that he played too much of Tekken and Tomb Raider. However, his wildest moment came in 2005, during his tenure in Manchester City.

In the last round of the Premier League, City needed a win to leapfrog Middlesbrough, the team they played against. Only two minutes before injury time, City's manager Stuart "Psycho" Pierce decided to do one of the most insane substitutes in soccer history. Instead of throwing in another attacker, he let David James take off his gloves and play as a center forward while changing a midfielder for a substitute keeper. Pure lunacy almost paid off, as they've earned a penalty, which they failed to convert. As for James, he had a few good moves and managed to tackle a couple of opponents at once.

9.  José Francisco Molina

Molina's international career was rather short
Known for: Staying outside the penalty area
Top teams he played for: Atlético Madrid, Deportivo de La Coruña
International career: Spain 9 (0)
Top trophies won: Spanish league, Spanish cup
Player info

Some goalkeepers occasionally like to leave their goalposts, but no one in history did it so much as Molina. Although he had a successful career and even won a title with Atlético Madrid in 1996, his stunning mistakes kept him from representing Spain. When he finally got his chance, he did what Molina does! At the 2000 European Championship, he allowed an easy goal, as Spain lost a game against Norway. After that, his international career was over.

There is no other goalie who liked so much to stay outside of his box, and no one knows why he did it. Unlike some of his colleagues on the list, he never scored a goal, not even from a penalty!

8. Rogério Ceni

Ceni was an outstanding free kick shooter
Known for: Excellent free kicks and penalty shooting
Top teams he played for: São Paulo FC
International career: Brazil 17 (0)
Top trophies won:  Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (3), Copa Libertadores, FIFA Club World Cup
Player info

Playing for 25 years in his native Brazil, Rogério Ceni is the best scoring goalkeeper in history! With 131 goals, he is so far ahead that it looks almost impossible for someone to top him. Since coming to Sao Paulo in 1993 up to his retirement, he took all free kicks and penalties. His best goal-scoring season came in 2005 when he racked up an absolutely insane 21 goals!

A fantastic shot-stopper and a dribbler, Ceni, unfortunately, played only 16 games for his national team but still won the World Cup in 2002. He also won the Brazilian championship, Copa Libertadores, and even the FIFA Club World Cup multiple times.

7. Vladimir Stojković

Vladimir Stojković is an excellent penalty saver
Known for: Explosive temperament, penalty-saving ability
Top teams he played for: Red Star Belgrade, Partizan Belgrade, Nottingham Forest
International career: Serbia 84 (0)
Top trophies won: Serbian league (4), Serbian cup (4), Portuguese cup
Player info

If the substitution rules for soccer were the same as in basketball, Vladimir Stojković would really benefit from it. Serbian national team keeper quickly became famous around Europe for his tendency to stop the impossible shots, while allowing incredible blunders. For Stojković, facing a penalty or one on one situation always looked like the easiest thing in the world. His most brilliant moment came in 2010 when he saved the penalty against Germany, as Serbia won 1-0.

Stojković is also a rare player who was a member of both Crvena Zvezda and Partizan, the two biggest clubs in Serbia. In 2010, after Partizan won another edition of the local derby against Crvena Zvezda, he enraged opposing fans by showing a shirt that said, "Forgive me for my ugly past." You can probably imagine the reactions!

6. Fabian Barthez

The worst game of Barthez's career
Known for: Massive errors
Top teams he played for: Marseille, Monaco, Manchester United
International career: France 87 (0)
Top trophies won: FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro, Champions League, French League (2)
Player info

As a World Cup winner Barthez is one of the best goalies in history, but at the same time, he loved going outside of his area, just like José Francisco Molina. But unlike the Spaniard, Barthez did love playing in front, and he got that opportunity during a friendly match for the Red Devils. Hailed for his speed, intensity, and acrobatics, Barthez occasionally made horrific errors.

His worst moment of insanity came in a game against Arsenal. First, his awful goal kick hit Thierry Henry, who easily scored before dropping an easy ball after catching it. Maybe the best description for Barthez is "The best and the worst goalkeeper ever." Not to limit himself to soccer, Barthez became a multi-sport athlete and even finished the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in respectable ninth place.

5. Oliver Kahn

The only "goal" of Oliver Khan's career
Known for: Being scary
Top teams he played for: Bayern Munich
International career: Germany 86 (0)
Top trophies won: German league (8), German cup (6), Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intercontinental Cup, UEFA Euro
Player info

For more than a decade, Oliver Kahn was one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Known for his reflexes, agility, and leadership, he was also an eccentric who would strike fear in everyone's hearts. Whenever he felt that his teammate made an error, he would run to him and shout like a madman. Incredibly, that never led to a single serious incident, and the referees weren't too keen to get involved.

His competitive spirit was so strong, that even when he faced nine-year-old kids in a charity shootout, he managed to stop every single shot! While this makes him look heartless, there is a happy end to this story. Once he was pleased with his performance, Kahn revealed that he would give money to charity, as if he failed to save a single shot! Who says that Germans don't have a sense of humor?

4. Jens Lehmann

The famous urinating incident by Jens Lehmann
Known for: Being out of control
Top teams he played for: Schalke 04, Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal
International career: Germany 61 (0)
Top trophies won: UEFA Cup, Italian league, German league, English league, FA Cup
Player info

Jens Lehmann had everything needed to be one of the best in front of the goal. He was tall, had incredible reflexes, and was always in command. But, he also was a hothead. If you wanted to unsettle Lehmann, you didn't even have to try hard. He often couldn't control his temper, so when he was substituted at half-time, he packed his things and went home. That move earned him a ten-match suspension. He was also not afraid of getting into the fights with his teammates, but that wasn't his worst blunder.

During a Champions League game against Unirea, Lehman left his goal to urinate but quickly returned as the opponents had a counter-attack! His other prominent incidents include stealing glasses from a fan, and a public feud with Oliver Kahn. He finished his career being ejected seven times, with 65 yellow cards.

3. José Luis Chilavert

Chilavert is the the biggest legend of Paraguay soccer
Known for: Excellent free kick and penalty taker
Top teams he played for: San Lorenzo, Real Zaragoza
International career: Paraguay 74 (8)
Top trophies won: Paraguayan league, Copa Libertadores, Intercontinental Cup, French Cup
Player info

José Luis Chilavert spent most of his career playing in South America, where he won the prestigious Copa Libertadores. Like Rogerio Ceni, he was the first choice for free-kick and penalties, scoring incredible 67 goals, including a hat-trick. Chilavert took his Paraguay to two World Cups in 1998 and 2002, and almost scored against Bulgaria from a long-distance free-kick.

Known as "El Bulldog," Chilavert was always up for a good fight. After he threw punches at Faustino Asprilla at the World Cup qualifier in 1997, he was suspended for four games. As Asprilla later revealed, the famous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar even offered to murder Chilavert. Luckily, he somehow managed to persuade him against it.

2. Jorge Campos

Jorge Campos is by far the shortest goalie on our list
Known for: Attacking ability, wild jerseys
Top teams he played for UNAM, LA Galaxy, Cruz Azul
International career: 129 (0)
Top trophies won: Mexican league (2), FIFA Confederations Cup
Player info

There will be no other Jorge Campos. At only 5'6", the Mexican is the shortest world-class goalkeeper that we know of. While that would be enough to remember him, that is the least remarkable thing about his career. Although some other keepers on our list loved to show their offensive skills, none compares to Campos. When he was told that he'll be only a substitute for the season, he became a striker and scored 22 goals in the championship! In the 1997 game against Atlante, he started as a goalie before later changing his position to a forward and scoring an incredible flying volley.

Campos also designed his insanely bright kits, most notably the one he wore at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. His theory was that the colors combined with the arrows pointing to his head will make the opposition continually targeting him instead of a goal.

1. Rene Higuita

Rene Higuita was a risk taker - look at his best moments
Known for: Excellent free kicks and penalty taking, massive dribbling runs
Top teams he played for: Real Valladolid, Atlético Nacional
International career: Colombia 63 (3)
Top trophies won: Copa Libertadores, Colombian league (2)
Player info

Most people remember Rene Higuita for his famous Scorpion Kick in a friendly game Colombia played against England. Still, his eccentricity goes well above that. Like Jorge Campos, Higuita was not a big man, standing 5'9". Still, he made sure that was never a problem, as he was always the top choice wherever he played. Another reason you wanted him in your team was his goal-scoring abilities, as he was an excellent penalty and free-kick taker. With 41 goals in his career, he's one of the best among the goalkeepers.

Higuita was also very fast and an incredible dribbler, which encouraged him to go for insane runs. It was not uncommon to watch him blow past defenders Maradona style, but sometimes, that cost him dearly. In a match against Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup, he was dispossessed as he tried to dribble, allowing a cheap goal that sent Colombians home. A few suspension for using cocaine and his ties with Pablo Escobar, add enough variety to put him on the top! 

Being both an eccentric and incredibly successful goalkeeper looks almost impossible, but these top ten men managed to do it and were (mostly) loved. Being what you are on and off the field might get you in trouble, but sometimes, it's worth it!

Have we missed someone on our list? Who is your favorite flamboyant goalkeeper, and why?

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Geofry Says:

So good to discover

December 30 at 06:31:26 AM

DannyAZ Says:

Campos was extraordinary. There was never a better keeper of his size.

August 20 at 09:40:34 AM

Julian Says:

Jorge and Rene were always my heroes! Unfortunately, none of the goalkeepers today have their charisma.

August 16 at 08:04:18 AM

Ryan Says:

Oliver Kahn once even bit a Player!

July 12 at 05:22:05 PM

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